Microsoft Describes 'Internet of Things' Vision, Issues Azure ISS Limited Preview

As part of Microsoft's "Internet of things" (IoT) vision, the company this month announced a limited public preview of its Azure Intelligent Systems Service (ISS).

IoT encompasses a number of Microsoft software tools and services, including Windows Embedded, Microsoft Azure, Power BI for Office 365 and HDInsight, which is Microsoft's Hadoop "big data" implementation.

According to a blog post by Barb Edson, general marketing manager for Windows Embedded, ISS can be applied to industries such as health care, manufacturing and retail, where insights are derived by pulling data from devices. Edson said enterprises also can use their existing Windows infrastructures to gain insights from machine data. Microsoft partners will be able to expand on the Azure ISS capabilities with their own support and service offerings, she noted.

Microsoft envisions four scenarios for its IoT concept, according to Clemens Vasters, a product architect for Microsoft Azure:

  • Data storage, analysis and machine learning
  • Service-assisted trustworthy communication
  • Actor-based high-scale computing
  • Federated identity and access control

One example of the data storage and analysis scenario is collecting vast amounts of data for real-time analysis via Hadoop, such as complex event processing for financial analyses. Alternatively, it can be used to support data-at-rest analyses or machine learning, according to Vasters, in a Microsoft-produced video.

Vasters described the "actor-based high-scale computing" scenario as something that might be used by gaming applications. He defined it as a "scale-appropriate compute model for service-side logic complementing device functionality on a per-device basis."

As a more practical example of how Microsoft's IoT concept might be applied, Vasters said it can be used to plan bus transportation routes. An IoT network for buses might use a network of photo sensors, infrared sensors and touch-based kiosks at bus stops that could help bus riders know when the next bus was coming, while also indicating the number of passengers on a route. This network could use machine learning to better plan route servicing schedules for both weekdays and weekends. Vasters suggested that the network could be paid for by establishing electric bus charging stations at each bus stop, along with the sensor network.

Microsoft describes Azure ISS as providing connection technology, no matter what operating system is used. The service can capture and share data. It can manage devices and set up alarms. The service can also store data in the cloud and respond to variable demands.

Participating in the Azure ISS limited public preview requires completing and submitting a survey, which can be accessed at this Microsoft Connect page. Applicants get reviewed each week, and notifications get sent five days after a review, according to Microsoft.

There's also a sign-up page to get a notification when Microsoft releases the full public preview of Azure ISS. The sign-up page can be accessed here (requires a Microsoft account).

About the Author

Chris Paoli (@ChrisPaoli5) is the associate editor for Converge360.